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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Write With Me: Planting Cabbages Plus a Slaw and a Slaw

Just what does this name Planting Cabbages mean?

I learned it from Michel de Montagne, a French Renaissance writer (1533-1592) who wrote about fear, friendship, government, cabbages, and the imagination. Not always in that order.

“I want death to find me planting my cabbages, but caring little for it, and even less about the imperfections of my garden.” ~ Michel de Montaigne."

What do you think? Is Michel  worried about death sneaking up on him? I think Michel means we should live while we can, don't worry so much. Have joy.

And eat cabbages, of course.

My garden is imperfect. My kitchen is often a mess. I wish I could say I don't worry, but I am working on that part. There's plenty of spoons to stir and spades to dig, so please join me. 

We can always find something delicious growing and simmering. And that's what I want to share and love, cook and plant, write and sing, dance and laugh with you!

Can you find the cabbages in this French Market?

Its okay, go ahead and be a little crazy like song birds in the spring; twittering past little plants of cabbages, watching them, nesting above the garden, busily pecking seeds and flying into apricot sunsets towards a new day.

And what else, but two recipes for planting cabbage season! Go forth my friends, and cabbage yourselves silly.

Sultry Napa Slaw with Papaya Seed Dressing

This time cabbage conjures up finesse and tropical breezes. Ceiling fans whir while you make this in your bamboo hut in French Polynesia. Ingredients can be prepared and kept separate until you toss them, like your grass skirt, ever so coquettishly together at serving time. The dressing can be made in advance too and just before serving mix with the slaw. Serve with a warm grilled item for the most stunning effect.

Makes 8 servings

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 cup jicama shreds
2 cups napa cabbage shreds
2 cups slightly underripe papaya, thinly sliced

For dressing:
1 tablespoon papaya seeds, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped candied ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Prepare vegetables and papaya as indicated and arrange in pretty little piles in one large bowl. When the meal is imminent combine the dressing ingredients in a screw top jar and shake vigorously. When ready to toss the slaw, pour over the ingredients in a large bowl.
Toss well and serve.

Warm Slaw with Red Cabbage and Walnuts
In this dish, cabbage and onions are caramelized and then joined together with a creamy mustard bath, with caraway seed, darling. To carry you away! Try it one cool spring evening with an omelette and a glass of r­o­sé from Côtes­ d­e Pr­o­­v­ence.

makes 8 servings

3 cups shredded red cabbage, about 1 medium head
1 medium red onion, sliced thin
2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
2 tart apples, such as gala, sliced thinly
1 orange, halved
4 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
½ teaspoon crushed caraway seed
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Begin with the red cabbage and onion, slice thinly. Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and when hot caramelize both the cabbage and onions. Place in a large shallow serving bowl.

Here’s an easy way to core your apples when you don’t need to peel them– cut a thin slice from the top and the bottom of your apple. Then, stand on one flat end and quarter the apple. Lay each quarter on their side and slicing diagonally though the apple, remove the core. Proceed with thinly slicing each quarter. Add the apples to the serving bowl with the caramelized cabbage and onions. Squeeze the orange over the apples, cabbage and onions. Prep the carrots by topping and tailing them and peeling. Once the outer peel is gone, discard (or compost, as we do) and continue peeling the carrots into pretty ribbons.

Make the dressing in a separate bowl. Whisk the oil and the vinegar. Add the dijon, caraway seed, salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Pour dressing over slaw and toss well. Adjust seasoning with more vinegar or salt and pepper. Add the chopped walnuts, serve immediately.
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